Little Nellie Organ, born in Waterford in 1903, made a profound impact on the Catholic religion, garnering attention from even the Pope following her short life. Prior to little Nellie’s death, the average age children would receive First Holy Communion was 14; after Nellie, it was 7.
A story reported from MGS Prayers tells the miraculous tale of Nellie Organ. Nellie was born the youngest of four children in 1903 in Waterford. Soon after her birth, her mother fell ill and died from tuberculosis. Fearing he would not be able to care efficiently for his four children, Nellie’s father placed her and her siblings into religious care.
Nellie and her sister were placed in the care of Good Shepherd in Cork, while her two brothers went to Brothers of Charity at Upton. Upon arrival at Good Shepherd, Nellie and her sister were diagnosed with whooping cough and were in hospital care for their first three months in Cork.
The nuns of Good Shepherd, however, almost immediately took notice of Nellie’s spiritual nature and “mystical aura.” Soon after her admittance to Good Shepherd, the little girl was also diagnosed with T.B., the same ailment that claimed the life of her late mother.
From that point on, Little Nellie remained steadfast in her spirituality. Nellie kept a statue of the Infant of Prague next her bed, and often spoke of her Holy God. The nuns were decided that ailing little Nellie should be permitted to receive her First Holy Communion, despite being only four years old.
Having received permission from the Bishop, Nellie received the sacrament on December 6, 1907.
Unfortunately, Nellie’s health still quickly deteriorated and she was found to also be suffering Caries, a condition that destroys the jaw. On February 2, 1908, Nellie passed away but only after weeping with joy in her final hours knowing that she would soon be meeting her Lord.
Nellie was laid to rest in her Communion dress at St. Joseph’s, the site which would become a shrine to many.
However, the nuns of Good Shepherd felt it was only appropriate that Nellie be laid to rest at Good Shepherd where she spent the majority of her short but blessed life.
After a year and a half, the nuns were granted permission to exhume Nellie’s body to move it to Good Shepherd. It was there that the most miraculous of events associated with Nellie was taken notice of.
Despite being buried for a year and a half, Nellie’s body was in perfect condition, with her pendant looking as if it had been shined up like new. Most spectacularly, it appeared that Nellie’s hair had grown since her burial.
Feeling a miracle was present, the Pope was notified of the events in Ireland. Hearing the story of Nellie Organ, the Pope Pius X felt moved enough that action must be taken to commemorate her life. It was then that the Pope changed the age of Communion from 14 to 7 years old, forever remembering Nellie, now known as Little Nellie of God.